Pioneers of Menard & Mason Counties
Including Personal Reminiscens of Abraham Lincoln & Peter Cartwright
By T.G. Onstot, 1902

Abe Lincoln and Slickey Bill Green

Page 95

In the perilous ties of the civil war Slickey Green went to Washington to see and consult with President Lincoln. The president recognized Slickey as soon as he entered the White House.

"How are you, Bill?" said he.

"How are you, Abe?" said Bill.

Secretary Stanton was by and Lincoln introduced Green. Stanton gave him a cool reception, without rising from his seat, whereupon Lincoln gave Stanton a rebuke by saying, "Mr. Green is the man who made me, and I am the man who made you, Mr. Stanton."

The Abe and Slickey sat down for a long talk, in which Lincoln recited the perilous condition of the country. Lincoln asked about all the principal men in Menard county, and if they were standing by him. Bill told him they were. Abe then asked how Henry Clark stood. Bill told him that he was sorry to inform him that Clark was not for him. After a few moments reflection Lincoln said:

"When you go home you see Clark and tell him that I once stood by him in an early encounter, and now I want him to stand by me in this terrible time."

When Green came home he saw Clark, and told him what Lincoln had said, and afterwards Abe had no surer friend in Menard county than Henry Clark.

Lincoln's great hold upon the common people arose from the fact that he was the representative of them. He had a supreme contempt for snobbery and never failed to rebuke it when he had the opportunity.

At one time a couple of English dudes visited the White House. They found the president with hair unkempt and clothes unbrushed. After a few remarks the president put his foot upon a chair and taking a blacking brush went to work on his shoes. The Englishmen were amazed, and one of them said, "Why Mr. Lincoln, in London no gentleman blacks his own shoes."

"No?" said old Abe, pausing to spit on the brush, "Whose shoes does he black?"

A few days ago I was on Salem hill and I stopped in front of the spot where the old hotel stood. Memory carried me back three score years when I saw Abe Lincoln playing marbles and pitching quoits on the very spot where I stood, and where his musical voice and ringing laugh could be heard above all his comrades. It is a wonder the ground at old Salem is not marked so that the visitor to that sacred spot can be better informed as to the locality of the buildings and other historic scenes of the town. I made arrangements with James Bale a few weeks ago in which he was to have old Salem mowed and furnished suitable posts and boards, and I agreed to locate where each building stood, with the owner's name and the business that he followed.

I understand that I am the only person now living that can do it. Salem is destined to become the Mt. Vernon of the west. Every allusion made by speakers at Old Salem Chautauqua that touched upon the history of this spot found a hearty response. While at old Salem Chautauqua a few weeks ago I met Uncle John Roll, who is nearly a hundred years old. He was an old comrade of Lincoln's at an early day. He is still in good health and bids fair to become a centenarian. He assisted Lincoln to build the last flat boat that went down the Sangamon at Sangamontown, and he delights to talk of his early career. They must have been intimate friends for Lincoln gave him his dog when he started for Washington to be inaugurated.

Mr. Roll had a picture of the dog, which he took great delight in showing. He also had a gold watch which Stephen A. Douglas used to carry. It was in a heavy gold case with S. A. Douglas carved on the back. He could probably get a large sum of money if he was willing to sell it. It was a great treat to meet a comrade of Lincoln's, who had lived with him, shared his toils and helped him achieve his triumphs.

Transcribed by:Brenda Hamilton Johnson



1902 Index

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Illinois Ancestors